Mocking Those of Faith

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RafaelNegrus:
And I have a problem with your starting thought, that we cannot know what is good and evil. Maybe this is true on an absolute level, but we must make decisions as to what is good and what is evil otherwise it will be simply chaos. So to that point we MUST make decisions about that on both an individual level and a societal level and then we have an obligation to fight for what is "good" and against what is "evil."

Yes, I should've been more clear but I was posting while rather sleep deprived. I do agree, we must act on our belief of what good is, we can't stand idly by while the man on the road suffers if we have the means to help him. But, I think the point I was trying to make about good / evil; is that we can't deny others their right to believe in something if we think it is evil. But, it is just as evil to allow it to persist in evil acts.

BiscuitTrouser:
And again for the schools using the same examples. If the PUBLIC wish to put up a monument for their purposes and leave me alone im fine since i suppose i can put my own one up too. The moment they HAVE to put one up and i HAVE to interact with it in a meaningful way im done.

And if the GOVERNMENT wishes to put up a monument for its purposes and, for the most part, leave you alone (aside from making an implicit endorsement of a religious view)..?

AgedGrunt:

wintercoat:
If they're just "painted plastic objects that were probably on sale at a Hobby Lobby", then why do you care so much about their removal? If they're just some shitty figurines, why care so much? You hurt your own argument by trying to belittle your opponent.

Why care to stand up for something I believe is an unalienable right? We are a united people; to deny from one means all are diminished. Could be a veteran yesterday, a minority today or myself tomorrow.

I would hope when my rights are being denied that others have my back, because freedom can't just sit on paper and look pretty. Lethargy and smug nationalism, a teenage invincibility toward liberty has led to damaging interpretations and policy that works like water does a solvent.

I'm sorry, I was under the impression we were talking about painted plastic objects, not symbols that mean something. Sorry, what with you saying that exact thing, I got kinda confused there.

On that note, why do you get to see them as a meaningful symbol, but I can't? Why do you get to see it as expressing your faith, but I'm not allowed to see it as an exclusionary symbol that says "if you aren't Christian, you aren't welcome here"? Why do they get to be a symbol for you, but I'm just fighting over "painted plastic objects"? Why am I an asshole for fighting to get what I see as an exclusionary symbol removed where such symbols don't belong, but your some hero for fighting to keep them? Did you even bother to think about what those symbols mean to others? About why they might want them taken down, other than to be spiteful?

It's all "why aren't you backing me up when my rights are being trampled!", but when it's my right to keep a government building secular that's being trampled, well fuck that shit, it interferes with your ability to exclude others based on religious belief. Us non-Christians should just shut up and take it.

It is not religious freedom to put religious symbols in, on or around a secular building, be that a school, a government building, or a police station.

Is it OK for a student at a public school to wear a religious symbol or read from a holy text to themselves?

How about a public servant to wear a religious symbol beneath their uniform because they believe it grants them a certain amount of protection or just because they're faithful sorts?

As long as those two things are allowed I see no reason NOT to keep the buildings 'secular'.

Bentusi16:
Is it OK for a student at a public school to wear a religious symbol or read from a holy text to themselves?

How about a public servant to wear a religious symbol beneath their uniform because they believe it grants them a certain amount of protection or just because they're faithful sorts?

As long as those two things are allowed I see no reason NOT to keep the buildings 'secular'.

Because students are totally part of the government. Right? Right?

Right?

Bashfluff:

Bentusi16:
Is it OK for a student at a public school to wear a religious symbol or read from a holy text to themselves?

How about a public servant to wear a religious symbol beneath their uniform because they believe it grants them a certain amount of protection or just because they're faithful sorts?

As long as those two things are allowed I see no reason NOT to keep the buildings 'secular'.

Because students are totally part of the government. Right? Right?

Right?

That's not what he said at all. He said that, as long as students, faculty, and employees are allowed their individual freedom, there's no reason the buildings they attend/work in shouldn't remain secular.

Seanchaidh:

BiscuitTrouser:
And again for the schools using the same examples. If the PUBLIC wish to put up a monument for their purposes and leave me alone im fine since i suppose i can put my own one up too. The moment they HAVE to put one up and i HAVE to interact with it in a meaningful way im done.

And if the GOVERNMENT wishes to put up a monument for its purposes and, for the most part, leave you alone (aside from making an implicit endorsement of a religious view)..?

The government isnt a person and doesnt get the same rights as a group of people do. If a bunch of students want to put up the 10 commandments thats fine as long as i can put up anything related to atheism that i so wish. If i CANNOT then theres an issue. If we declare that some school space can be used to represent our faiths/lack of faith and make it equally available to all then i take no issue. However the government cannot mandate or put up a monument because that isnt equal. You have favoritism in something thats meant to be neutral. I expect christian school children to support christian teachings and endorse them. The government doesnt have the same right. A parallel is that in a rugby game all players are allowed to tackle. If the rules forbid a team from doing so that would be unfair. The referee isnt allowed to tackle at all because the moment he does he would have picked a side and would be unfairly supporting them. I expect christian children to show favoritism toward their religion. I expect the government not to.

RafaelNegrus:
The issue with religion getting involved in government is that there is no stopping point, especially with Christianity which has a huge emphasis on evangelism. The decorations aren't really the point, it's the idea behind them, that religion should have an overt hand in government and ultimately the forming of policy. But we see all over the world and all throughout history that such a system does not work and leads towards discrimination and violence. So yes, you have to put Christmas decorations on private property.

Decorations don't get "involved" in government or forming policy, they are inanimate objects. And you contradict yourself by saying they aren't the point and then that they lead to discrimination and violence. The only discriminating I've seen regarding displays is the unhappy, self-righteous people that demand their removal. Honestly when secular people do that, they don't look any different than religious zealots intolerant of other systems.

BiscuitTrouser:
However i was opposed, pretty weakly though, to the cross at ground zero.

I would have asked all nations, religions and walks of life to represent themselves to display a global respect and condemnation of what happened.

We need unity. In the grand scheme of things, our human race is running out of time. There's one theory giving about 9000 more years, barring disaster or interstellar travel. We've been digging in fields and making pottery for longer than that.

AgedGrunt:

BiscuitTrouser:
However i was opposed, pretty weakly though, to the cross at ground zero.

I would have asked all nations, religions and walks of life to represent themselves to display a global respect and condemnation of what happened.

We need unity. In the grand scheme of things, our human race is running out of time. There's one theory giving about 9000 more years, barring disaster or interstellar travel. We've been digging in fields and making pottery for longer than that.

Thats a lovely sentiment and exactly what i had in mind. Im reminded of the phrase that reads "Do not ask for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee" which is often mis understood. The point of it is, not that youre going to die, but that when you hear funeral bells you shouldnt be concerned with who EXACTLY is dead because every human life lost is a blow to all of humanity everywhere. The bells toll for YOUR loss and EVERYONES loss because we are a united species. Maybe in future we can celebrate triumphs and commemorate disasters without the need for barriers or groups.

AgedGrunt:

RafaelNegrus:
The issue with religion getting involved in government is that there is no stopping point, especially with Christianity which has a huge emphasis on evangelism. The decorations aren't really the point, it's the idea behind them, that religion should have an overt hand in government and ultimately the forming of policy. But we see all over the world and all throughout history that such a system does not work and leads towards discrimination and violence. So yes, you have to put Christmas decorations on private property.

Decorations don't get "involved" in government or forming policy, they are inanimate objects. And you contradict yourself by saying they aren't the point and then that they lead to discrimination and violence. The only discriminating I've seen regarding displays is the unhappy, self-righteous people that demand their removal. Honestly when secular people do that, they don't look any different than religious zealots intolerant of other systems.

Why do you assume they are "unhappy, self righteous people"? Projecting much?

Did you see the uproar the country got whipped up into when they proposed a Muslim community center on the same block as the former Twin Towers? I don't think the country would be so interested in "unity" if the government started putting up Islamic religious displays and printing "Allah is God and Mohammed is his Prophet" on our money.

The prohibition of the government from endorsing your religion is the same one that prohibits it from endorsing any religion. Nobody is being discriminated against. In actuality, you're demanding more rights than the Constitution grants you, and whining that you don't have them. Lobby congress.

BiscuitTrouser:
However i was opposed, pretty weakly though, to the cross at ground zero.

I would have asked all nations, religions and walks of life to represent themselves to display a global respect and condemnation of what happened.

We need unity. In the grand scheme of things, our human race is running out of time. There's one theory giving about 9000 more years, barring disaster or interstellar travel. We've been digging in fields and making pottery for longer than that.

If there's one thing that will eventually wipe out the human race, smart money would be on religious conflict. Historically, the further we've gotten away from religious fundamentalism in any society, the better things generally become for everyone involved.[1]

Bentusi16:
Is it OK for a student at a public school to wear a religious symbol or read from a holy text to themselves?

How about a public servant to wear a religious symbol beneath their uniform because they believe it grants them a certain amount of protection or just because they're faithful sorts?

As long as those two things are allowed I see no reason NOT to keep the buildings 'secular'.

If a teacher wants to read a bible to themselves between classes or on their break time, or if a polite officer wants to wear a crucifix beneath his uniform, I fail to see what the problem is. The problem only emerges if the teacher starts reading the bible aloud to their class.

[1] Preemptive defense: Stalinist Russia was about as close to a religion as you can get without a stated god, with the Party being credited with miracles and the dictator in a surefire position of absolute authority and genius. Also, North Korea has a dead man as its president. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

The bible does have a place in the education system, specifically in English, Sociology, and Comparative Theology. The third one is especially useful in breaking down ignorance, since ignorance often leads to fear and hatred faster then anything but perhaps understanding.

Religion itself is of such historical significance that looking back on my own education the lack of what its done in history being taught is disturbing. The good and the bad.

I had a global politics teacher who wanted to do a comparative theology class but wasn't allowed to due to the fact that it was public school; so yo know, children being denied a part of education out of fear of litigation by 'freedom from religion' groups puts them firmly in the bad guy zone for me. In the same way individual churches trying to enforce their version of marriage as the states version is.

itsthesheppy:
Why do you assume they are "unhappy, self righteous people"? Projecting much?

You say that as a preface to your own unhappy rant projecting the end of the human race due to religious conflict. You're evidently supporting conflict with religion rather than peace. Not to be crude, but, I think you proved my point about disunion.

Keeping religions from controlling and altering government is a fine ideal, but it does not necessitate a firewall and public shunning of faith. Frankly I'm glad my politicians can say "God Bless America" and ask the nation to pray for those in need. I don't want cold, steel government and wish people would just leave well enough alone when something isn't bothering anyone.

AgedGrunt:
Frankly I'm glad my politicians can say "God Bless America"

You're (intentionally) missing the point. It's not that politicians can proclaim their faith that I have a problem with; it's that they must.

AgedGrunt:
Two wrongs don't make a right.

I never claimed they did. I'm saying that speaking out against condemnations to Hell - even if you don't believe in Hell - is a fine, justifiable and reasonable thing to do. That, in fact, you shouldn't just let it go because it says a lot about the people proclaiming it (and considering it just and godly).

Litigation against schools and cities (i.e. the public), alleging personal damages because people came into contact with religion is decidedly anti-first amendment, which is the opposite of what you predicated this entire paragraph on. No idea how you got all of that from what I said; it's conjured.

It's not about "contact", it's about imposition. For instance, while pro-theocracy folks often claim that their children aren't allowed to pray in schools because of the evil secularists, nothing could be further from the truth. What they are angry about is that their religion isn't imposed on everybody at that school like they think it should be through school-led prayers. It's a pretty amazing reversal and claiming of victimhood when the only thing being done to them is taking away the power to infringe on other people's first amendment-based rights.

AgedGrunt:
...and wish people would just leave well enough alone when something isn't bothering anyone.

But it is bothering people. Again, don't act like the fact that you don't care/are not bothered means a damn thing.

Bentusi16:
I had a global politics teacher who wanted to do a comparative theology class but wasn't allowed to due to the fact that it was public school; so yo know, children being denied a part of education out of fear of litigation by 'freedom from religion' groups puts them firmly in the bad guy zone for me. In the same way individual churches trying to enforce their version of marriage as the states version is.

Dunno, maybe that is an issue with some secular people in the USA. Personally, I have attended world religion classes for years and think they should be part of the school curriculum; it allows to break the bubble of religious isolationism and grows understanding for your fellow citizens. The only reason why somebody might in my view be justifiably opposed to it is if the proposal in question can be demonstrated to be nothing but a cover for religious imposition. You know, the kind of course where mandatory Bible studies are hastily and poorly dressed up as RE classes to lie and sneak their way past the first amendment. So that may be the fear behind the opposition you've observed. In principle, I at least certainly agree with such classes, though, and think they could reduce fundamentalism and allow for more moderate religious approaches, which would also help acceptance of science and the like.

Bentusi16:
The bible does have a place in the education system, specifically in English, Sociology, and Comparative Theology. The third one is especially useful in breaking down ignorance, since ignorance often leads to fear and hatred faster then anything but perhaps understanding.

Religion itself is of such historical significance that looking back on my own education the lack of what its done in history being taught is disturbing. The good and the bad.

I had a global politics teacher who wanted to do a comparative theology class but wasn't allowed to due to the fact that it was public school; so yo know, children being denied a part of education out of fear of litigation by 'freedom from religion' groups puts them firmly in the bad guy zone for me. In the same way individual churches trying to enforce their version of marriage as the states version is.

People who misunderstand the law to prevent the teaching of the bible (alongside, I would hope, other holy books) as a historical element annoy me just as much. The bible should be taught. not taught from. And if you're going to teach the bible, see to it you teach the other books as well. If the history class is managed correctly, there's no problem.

AgedGrunt:

itsthesheppy:
Why do you assume they are "unhappy, self righteous people"? Projecting much?

You say that as a preface to your own unhappy rant projecting the end of the human race due to religious conflict. You're evidently supporting conflict with religion rather than peace. Not to be crude, but, I think you proved my point about disunion.

Keeping religions from controlling and altering government is a fine ideal, but it does not necessitate a firewall and public shunning of faith. Frankly I'm glad my politicians can say "God Bless America" and ask the nation to pray for those in need. I don't want cold, steel government and wish people would just leave well enough alone when something isn't bothering anyone.

So my reasoned counterpoints to you are not an "unhappy rant". We're stacking the fallacies a little deep at this point. How about you stop attempting to psychoanalyze me from across the computer screen; you're embarrassing yourself and doing your side of the argument no credit.

The thing you're not understanding is the same law that annoys you so much is the one preventing a Hindu teacher from trying to get his class to pray to Hanuman the monkey god. Is it not enough for you that religions are already tax-exempt? Do you honestly think that religions don't have enough say in our culture? As Silvanus points out above, it's less that politicians have the option of invoking god; they more or less have to, to be taken seriously.

The prohibition of government endorsement of religion, but the granting of freedom of worship to one and all, is one of the founding principles of this country. Worship whomever you like; the government will not participate. You need to stop thinking about what you want, and think about what's good for a multicultural country that was founded on the principles of providing a (relatively) free place to live where one would not have to worry about being oppressed by whatever religious majority would happen to prevail

Let's say that overnight the country decides to ignore the finer points of the first amendment, as so many would like to see, and comes out in frank endorsement of a religion. Only, oops, they went with Islam. Now the president is sworn in on a Quran, children are instructed in school to acknowledge Muhammad as the Prophet and bow to Mecca multiple times a day. How pleased would you be, if you knew your kids were being compelled to participate? Oh, sure, they can go wait in the hallway if they don't want to. It's only fair, right?

Of course not. To those of us with different gods, or no gods, the idea of the government coming out in clear endorsement is abhorrent, especially to one who grew up in a country that has always opted out of the conversation.

Nobody is telling you that you can't worship. No rights are being taken away. The constitution and subsequent supreme court rulings have been very clear on this matter. Sorry if your particular flavor of god-worship isn't getting the preferential treatment you'd like, but that's fairness for you. We can't all get exactly what we want, and good thing too.

Part of the problem is what you consider endorsement. To some people just hanging up the ten commandants or something isn't an endorsement of the government for religion, to others it is.

So what happens in situations where private property is being used to show a religious symbol that isn't illegal in itself (no black altar to Torak with bloodstains down it, for example) but let's say, someone puts up a trio of crosses in their yard. They aren't violating their homeowners agreement; but their home is right near a publicly owned road or government institution.

However, the view is very much public and centralized, assuming the public road is often used.

In the case of reading the bible or wearing a cross discreetly, these are personal things. No one can hear you reading unless your really loud or they have mind powers. Reading aloud is a separate thing, if your aiming to read loud enough for others to hear you, unless it's a small group session somewhere public where you adjust your volume for your group.

Anyway, in this case it's a big obvious religious symbol, while it is on private property, is also very visible to the public. What about in this case?

Also I think there shuld be a distinction between government land, which is used by the government to perform some action, like a courthouse, and public land, which is land set aside for public use for whatever. Public land should be able to used by the public for whatever they want as long as it doesn't break any laws, such as setting up permanent structures; but if an evangelical wants to set up a temporary cross and soap box to preach, that's EXACTLY the sort of thing public land should be used for, along with picnics and scratch team sports and such.

Bentusi16:
Part of the problem is what you consider endorsement. To some people just hanging up the ten commandants or something isn't an endorsement of the government for religion, to others it is.

So what happens in situations where private property is being used to show a religious symbol that isn't illegal in itself (no black altar to Torak with bloodstains down it, for example) but let's say, someone puts up a trio of crosses in their yard. They aren't violating their homeowners agreement; but their home is right near a publicly owned road or government institution.

However, the view is very much public and centralized, assuming the public road is often used.

In the case of reading the bible or wearing a cross discreetly, these are personal things. No one can hear you reading unless your really loud or they have mind powers. Reading aloud is a separate thing, if your aiming to read loud enough for others to hear you, unless it's a small group session somewhere public where you adjust your volume for your group.

Anyway, in this case it's a big obvious religious symbol, while it is on private property, is also very visible to the public. What about in this case?

Also I think there shuld be a distinction between government land, which is used by the government to perform some action, like a courthouse, and public land, which is land set aside for public use for whatever. Public land should be able to used by the public for whatever they want as long as it doesn't break any laws, such as setting up permanent structures; but if an evangelical wants to set up a temporary cross and soap box to preach, that's EXACTLY the sort of thing public land should be used for, along with picnics and scratch team sports and such.

Your first situation has two solutions for it. The European answer has generally been that if its viewable in a public space then it is public space and people don't have the right to do that. In America it's private land, so yeah that's fine.

And I think your divisions between public land and government land is, trying to be as polite as possible, one that doesn't actually exist. It's all publicly owned, and for many of those types of buildings I as a citizen have just as much right to go in as I would a park, and so there really isn't any distinction. I have no (legal) issues with someone setting up a soapbox and saying stuff, but if they set something up on a semi-permanent basis then there's nothing to say WHO did that, and the implication that the government is fine with the fact that they did, which then falls under the establishment clause.

itsthesheppy:
Seriously though, why would the bible have bits in it where it's like "These people are bad and will go to hell" and have different bits that say " Never mind all that, just be nice and you'll be fine." Also, jesus makes it clear in John 14:6 that just being a nice guy isn't enough. you also have to specifically accept him as your messiah. What if you don't? You could be the nicest guy on the planet and still not get into heaven? Look, what parts of the bible are "real" and which ones aren't? Because its tough to tell; the bible seems to operate under the assumption that everything it says is the word of god, since it keeps reminding us.

I always find this kind of view interesting, as it's someone essentially arguing against something without fully understanding it. A good example is, of course, the Laws of the Old Covenant. People quote them quite often, when in fact many of them simply no longer apply.
"Which ones aren't?" you ask? Well, if you had a solid understanding of the book in it's entirety, I'd feel that this question wouldn't need to be asked. I don't mean to insult you, or to insinuate that you're ignorant; the Bible is, frankly, a hell of a lot of dense reading without the structure of "entertainment". It requires a lot to get through. I recommend looking up a few things such as these to self-educate, to give yourself the best position argument wise, however. Especially if you're going to use this element when discussing it.
With that in mind, the best example I can offer is the laws of sacrifice. These have been essentially ruled out because Jesus has fulfilled them. He didn't revoke these laws, or rescind them, he completed their meaning as expressed in the Old Testament. Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, who was to come to do precisely that - complete the Laws and fulfill the Covenant. Jesus, essentially, made it unnecessary for Christians to keep those laws. They are now unnecessary because they have served their intended goal of pointing to the Messiah - whom the Christians identify as Jesus. And he's been and gone.
I could sit and post quotes from the Bible to explain this in greater detail - however it's really a well discussed topic, and better minds have explained it in greater detail than I'm sure you'd want here. A google search should suffice. If you having trouble finding the appropriate reading, let me know and I'll be happy to point to some that I found to be educational.

itsthesheppy:
If there are bits that don't apply anymore, why haven't they been edited out? Why haven't the newer printed versions added footnotes that say "Just ignore this part, god doesn't really think that anymore"?

Two reasons, mostly. Firstly, the Christian Bible serves as a history of the world. You don't edit out parts of something meant to represent the history of your people. Secondly, because if one reads the book from cover to cover and takes the time to actually understand it, amendments and omissions are unnecessary. Different versions of the Bible are currently in circulation which seek to make understanding it less difficult, complete with explanations for the questions you seem to be raising. Might I suggest looking into one of those?
Most people who claim to be Christians have never read the entire Bible. Ever. I'd put a considerable sum on saying less than half of the Christians in the USA have read it through once, and less still have gone through to match it up. As I've posted around these parts before, it's really a matter of education. If Atheists wanted to end all forms of Christian persecution, they need only point to the book they claim to have read. It's really all there, black and white. There isn't a TL;DR, so most people just read the first few chapters and think they've got it.

itsthesheppy:
...I'm saying: If an atheist does a bad thing, unless it's proven that his or her atheism is causal to the bad action, then you can't blame the atheism on the bad action. For example, if an atheist steals a car, it doesn't mean that atheism made him do it. but if he says "I'm stealing this car because god is fake" then you could certainly blame the atheism...

Excellent, someone who understands! However, I hope you also understand that the logical inverse to this is also true - by which I mean if someone says "I'm stealing this car because God is fake", it does not make that statement irrevocably true. If, hypothetically, the Law contained sub-clauses which granted leniency or additional consideration to acts committed due to atheism, than people would be encouraged to make statements of that nature.
This is why I'm all for removing "Religious" crap from the Law - I'm tired of people grabbing hold of religions and using them to power their agendas. The terrorist attacks made against the USA's international forces each year are not commissioned by people who believe America is an affront to their religions - their commissioned by people who dislike America's international relations and foreign policy, who then twist religion to convince the uneducated to commit the terrorist actions. As I said, education is the weapon that should be being used.

itsthesheppy:
...The religious crackdown in communist Russia is the great trump card that loves to get played but is totally wrong. [snip] ... He did it to grab as much power and influence as possible, and let's face it; especially at that time, the church had a lot of power. He destroyed a competitor to his own influence.
His atheism was not causal. His political ideology was.

Unfortunately, I'll have to disagree with you. While I agree his political ideology was indeed the reason for his actions, it was not the reason for the actions of the people who followed him. Dissenters from the various Churches, anti-religious peoples and those oppressed by the Church lead a disconnected atheist uprising against all religions within the borders of the USSR, which was eventually supported by the Stalin Government. We're not talking about people who used religion or the lack of religion to further a political ideal - as so happens in the West - and which you correctly identified as what Stalin did.
We're now talking about people who used Stalin's political ideology to justify and make legal their anti-religious behaviour, up to and including murdering and torturing them. It's an important difference.
To put it into modern context - atheists and anti-theists are two different and often confused groups. Atheists do not believe in a God(s), while anti-theists essentially reject religion as a whole - to put it mildly. Anything that supports the "atheist agenda", if I can use such a term, is often appropriated by the anti-theists for their own agenda, despite the fact that many atheists employ a "I'm cool with religion as long as their cool with atheism". Much is the same here - a united enemy, so to speak.
The USSR's situation was, essentially, people jumping on the bandwagon when they realised it would get done what they wanted.

itsthesheppy:
...Not many people do things because of things they don't believe in... People happen to be atheists in much the same way they happen to have mustaches. It's a character trait, but typically not causal to behaviors in the same way that religions can be...

Unfortunately, you've incorrectly labeled Atheism as the lack of belief, which it really isn't. Atheism is the belief that God(s) do not exist. It is not the same as wearing a hat, or having side burns, or owning a cat, nor is it the "default position" - which is the lack of belief, as I believe you've offered - because it requires understanding of what God would/could be in order to form an opinion on the matter, and the human mind automatically creates a conclusion, even when one does not logically exist.

A good teacher once provided the example of "Are there Diamonds in the Moon?". Before the question is asked, it is unlikely that someone would have seriously contemplated this. The person who has never pondered the question is the default - they have no opinion one way or the other. Once the question is asked, however, a person will automatically create a slant based on their accumulated knowledge - some will think it likely, some will think it unlikely. The only correct answer is "I do not know." Believing that there are no Diamonds in the Moon is not the default - the lack of belief - and therefore Atheism is also not the default, and thus your explanation doesn't apply.

Given the spiritual definition of God - that is, a non-physical Omnipotent consciousness - the only logical answer is "I don't know." It is, inherently, unanswerable given the nature of the physical world. It is possible, but unknowable.

itsthesheppy:
Hate crimes? Calm down. It's not a perfect analogy, you're right. But moderates are responsible, whether they know it or not, according to my reasoning in the post I laid out earlier, linked above.

I'm sorry, I must be going blind - I can't seem to locate it? Could you tell me which page it's on, and I'll simply read all of your posts on that page.
Thank you.

Edit: I've gone and done it again. I'll reply to you next time Polarity. Sorry :(

Zeh Don:
"Which ones aren't?" you ask? Well, if you had a solid understanding of the book in it's entirety, I'd feel that this question wouldn't need to be asked. I don't mean to insult you, or to insinuate that you're ignorant; the Bible is, frankly, a hell of a lot of dense reading without the structure of "entertainment". It requires a lot to get through. I recommend looking up a few things such as these to self-educate, to give yourself the best position argument wise, however. Especially if you're going to use this element when discussing it.

You're implying that there is a particular answer to that question, when in fact theologians, priests, church leaders etc. of all stripes and denominations keep arguing about what rules exactly do still apply today and which don't. It's why you have Christians arguing against homosexual rights and Christians arguing for that same issue. So, no, this question absolutely needs to be asked because it is far from resolved even among those whose entire lives' work is to study it. So don't act like this question repeatedly coming up in these kinds of debates is due to a lack of understanding. Same goes for your comment regarding Christians later in your post: Disagreements and splinterings of the religion don't necessarily come about through a lack of understanding but through differences in understanding and interpretation. And, yes, if used in a particular way the Bible can easily be used to justify persecution and imposition, just like somebody can use it to bring people together. There's no one "right" way to be a Christian.

Okay so - I am a former christian (now atheist). I converted when I did a massive bout of research (during the gap between high school and university) and realised that there is a burden of proof that is not met with the (DISTINCT LACK OF) evidence that is provided. As far as mocking those of faith is concerned - My understanding is there is two forms of mocking, there is "HAHA, YOU'RE SO DUMB COS LOL, Y U GOT GOD DUMB ASS" and then there is "You belief is founded on insubstantial evidence that is full of formal logic fallacies - heres a list of why, please look into it more." The former is not constructive, that is my objection, however that later is a legitimate thing to do. As a positive atheist I think those who have a faith are wrong. That's just the fact. In fact, I'd go as far to say they are wrong, not I believe, no no, that in fact - the evidence says there is no proof for a god. In this way I think if you want to parade on the internet where people DO NOT PULL punches and expect people to sympathise and not attack your belief well, you are in the wrong place.

But I appreciate the guts it would take to make a post like this - however, understand if you are wrong and people ridicule you, thats not mean, thats people pointing out you are wrong, feel free to PM me and I can talk you through any pro-god argument you have and why it is wrong.

Cheers :)

Zeh Don:

itsthesheppy:
Seriously though, why would the bible have bits in it where it's like "These people are bad and will go to hell" and have different bits that say " Never mind all that, just be nice and you'll be fine." Also, jesus makes it clear in John 14:6 that just being a nice guy isn't enough. you also have to specifically accept him as your messiah. What if you don't? You could be the nicest guy on the planet and still not get into heaven? Look, what parts of the bible are "real" and which ones aren't? Because its tough to tell; the bible seems to operate under the assumption that everything it says is the word of god, since it keeps reminding us.

I always find this kind of view interesting, as it's someone essentially arguing against something without fully understanding it. A good example is, of course, the Laws of the Old Covenant. People quote them quite often, when in fact many of them simply no longer apply.

Pretty much everything I've been referring to is in the NT. So your retreat to the OT to discredit what I'm saying betrays your lack of confidence in standing behind the NT. I asked you about the implications of John 14:6. Do you not have an answer? Also, if you think the OT doesn't apply anymore, I know of one person who disagrees with you:

Matthew 5:17
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

I have to imagine that Matthew 5:17 has given bible apologists more trouble than any other line in the entire book.

"Which ones aren't?" you ask? Well, if you had a solid understanding of the book in it's entirety, I'd feel that this question wouldn't need to be asked. I don't mean to insult you, or to insinuate that you're ignorant; the Bible is, frankly, a hell of a lot of dense reading without the structure of "entertainment". It requires a lot to get through. I recommend looking up a few things such as these to self-educate, to give yourself the best position argument wise, however. Especially if you're going to use this element when discussing it.
With that in mind, the best example I can offer is the laws of sacrifice. These have been essentially ruled out because Jesus has fulfilled them. He didn't revoke these laws, or rescind them, he completed their meaning as expressed in the Old Testament. Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, who was to come to do precisely that - complete the Laws and fulfill the Covenant. Jesus, essentially, made it unnecessary for Christians to keep those laws. They are now unnecessary because they have served their intended goal of pointing to the Messiah - whom the Christians identify as Jesus. And he's been and gone.
I could sit and post quotes from the Bible to explain this in greater detail - however it's really a well discussed topic, and better minds have explained it in greater detail than I'm sure you'd want here. A google search should suffice. If you having trouble finding the appropriate reading, let me know and I'll be happy to point to some that I found to be educational.

This is what I got from your response posted above:

1. You don't know "which ones" because you're stupid and/or ignorant.
2. It's okay if you're ignorant because the bible is, like, super hard.
3. So hard in fact that I am going to fail to quote anything from it, or back of anything I say with references, so as not to give you anything solid to reply to.
4. Go do some google searches.

Is this really the best you can do? If someone asks you a question in a conversation and your reply is something along the lines of "If you have to ask you'll never know" or some other similarly childish response, you're not doing yourself any credit. Let's have some concrete examples of these sacrificial laws that jesus fulfilled. Bonus points if you can link that to anything we're talking about, which as far as I can tell, they do not. Because again, John 14:6 and 1 Corinthians 6 both rest squarely in the NT.

itsthesheppy:
If there are bits that don't apply anymore, why haven't they been edited out? Why haven't the newer printed versions added footnotes that say "Just ignore this part, god doesn't really think that anymore"?

Two reasons, mostly. Firstly, the Christian Bible serves as a history of the world. You don't edit out parts of something meant to represent the history of your people. Secondly, because if one reads the book from cover to cover and takes the time to actually understand it, amendments and omissions are unnecessary. Different versions of the Bible are currently in circulation which seek to make understanding it less difficult, complete with explanations for the questions you seem to be raising. Might I suggest looking into one of those?
Most people who claim to be Christians have never read the entire Bible. Ever. I'd put a considerable sum on saying less than half of the Christians in the USA have read it through once, and less still have gone through to match it up. As I've posted around these parts before, it's really a matter of education. If Atheists wanted to end all forms of Christian persecution, they need only point to the book they claim to have read. It's really all there, black and white. There isn't a TL;DR, so most people just read the first few chapters and think they've got it.

Yes. Most people fail to read the bible cover to cover. Including yourself, it would seem, as you have again here in the same post squirmed out of any responsibility of backing up what you're saying with direct quotes or examples that I can then study. Your entire response is basically "Psh, dude, don't ask me, it's all in there, you're just a dummy if you don't get it". You can't give me one example?

You're coming off like someone who has faith that the bible isn't outdated and self-contradictory while personally lacking the facts to back it up. Once again: can you explain the implications I point out above about John 14:6? Can you explain why 1 Corinthians 6 isn't relevant despite existing in the NT and coming to us through the only original source we have, historically, for Jesus' divinity?

itsthesheppy:
...I'm saying: If an atheist does a bad thing, unless it's proven that his or her atheism is causal to the bad action, then you can't blame the atheism on the bad action. For example, if an atheist steals a car, it doesn't mean that atheism made him do it. but if he says "I'm stealing this car because god is fake" then you could certainly blame the atheism...

Excellent, someone who understands! However, I hope you also understand that the logical inverse to this is also true - by which I mean if someone says "I'm stealing this car because God is fake", it does not make that statement irrevocably true. If, hypothetically, the Law contained sub-clauses which granted leniency or additional consideration to acts committed due to atheism, than people would be encouraged to make statements of that nature.
This is why I'm all for removing "Religious" crap from the Law - I'm tired of people grabbing hold of religions and using them to power their agendas. The terrorist attacks made against the USA's international forces each year are not commissioned by people who believe America is an affront to their religions - their commissioned by people who dislike America's international relations and foreign policy, who then twist religion to convince the uneducated to commit the terrorist actions. As I said, education is the weapon that should be being used.

The "uneducated terrorist" is a myth. Many terrorists have been shown to be college-educated, perfectly "reasonable" people who just happened to be highly religious, and motivated by that religion to attack a perceived threat to that religion. (An important thing to keep in mind is that for a lot of these middle eastern countries, religion and politics are interwoven and in some cases, indistinguishable.) The "political" disagreement Islamic terrorists theocracies have with us in the middle east in particular is almost wholly centered around our backing and aid given to Isreal. Why do the predominantly muslim middle eastern countries have a problem with the predominantly jewish Isreal? Could it be because predominantly jewish Isreal mistreat the predominantly muslim Palestinians?

Let me ask you something. The next suicide bombing; how likely do you think it will be that the perpetrator and the victims will both be muslims, only the perpetrator will be from one partition of the faith, and the victims from the other? I bet you know where the smart money is on that bet.

Extremists don't pervert the religion they belong to. They just happen to follow all the nasty bits that moderates choose to ignore. I've covered this a few times in this thread and I'm not in the mood to repeat myself.

itsthesheppy:
...The religious crackdown in communist Russia is the great trump card that loves to get played but is totally wrong. [snip] ... He did it to grab as much power and influence as possible, and let's face it; especially at that time, the church had a lot of power. He destroyed a competitor to his own influence.
His atheism was not causal. His political ideology was.

Unfortunately, I'll have to disagree with you. While I agree his political ideology was indeed the reason for his actions, it was not the reason for the actions of the people who followed him. Dissenters from the various Churches, anti-religious peoples and those oppressed by the Church lead a disconnected atheist uprising against all religions within the borders of the USSR, which was eventually supported by the Stalin Government. We're not talking about people who used religion or the lack of religion to further a political ideal - as so happens in the West - and which you correctly identified as what Stalin did.
We're now talking about people who used Stalin's political ideology to justify and make legal their anti-religious behaviour, up to and including murdering and torturing them. It's an important difference.

Prove it.

I'm serious, prove the allegations you're making above. I'll do you a solid and tell you what evidence would be necessary: That lack of a belief in god was causal to the violence committed. I don't think you can, because you debunked yourself without even noticing. You're saying people wanted an excuse to get back at the church. Why? Well, according to you, the people were dissenters who were oppressed, and this was their chance for a little revenge. That's not atheism at work. That's an oppressed minority getting a little payback for being mistreated.

Let me put it to you this way: Let's say that Group A all have mustaches, and they oppress group B for a century or two because group B doesn't have mustaches and Group A subscribes to the belief that not having a mustache makes you less of a person. If the balance of power shifts and group B rises up and kicks group A's asses, was it their lack of mustaches making them do it?

To put it into modern context - atheists and anti-theists are two different and often confused groups. Atheists do not believe in a God(s), while anti-theists essentially reject religion as a whole - to put it mildly. Anything that supports the "atheist agenda", if I can use such a term, is often appropriated by the anti-theists for their own agenda, despite the fact that many atheists employ a "I'm cool with religion as long as their cool with atheism". Much is the same here - a united enemy, so to speak.
The USSR's situation was, essentially, people jumping on the bandwagon when they realised it would get done what they wanted.

To the part I bolded above: Prove it. I'd be interested to see your research.

itsthesheppy:
...Not many people do things because of things they don't believe in... People happen to be atheists in much the same way they happen to have mustaches. It's a character trait, but typically not causal to behaviors in the same way that religions can be...

Unfortunately, you've incorrectly labeled Atheism as the lack of belief, which it really isn't.

Just gonna stop you right there. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. That's it. your tortured misunderstanding of the word and its meaning may be the source for some of your confusion.

What you're talking about in your incorrect definition that followed the above quote is 'gnostic atheism'. Not many atheists are gnostic atheists. I, for example, don't personally know any. Most of the prolific atheist writers - Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, Jillette - are 'agnostic atheists'. They (and myself) are open to the possibility that god might exist if there was any evidence provided that he, or she, or it, does. But since there is a profound lack of evidence, then nonexistance is assumed for the sake of brevity. God gets the same treatment as bigfoot and faeries. Considered unreal until proven to be real.

itsthesheppy:
Hate crimes? Calm down. It's not a perfect analogy, you're right. But moderates are responsible, whether they know it or not, according to my reasoning in the post I laid out earlier, linked above.

I'm sorry, I must be going blind - I can't seem to locate it? Could you tell me which page it's on, and I'll simply read all of your posts on that page.
Thank you.

Edit: I've gone and done it again. I'll reply to you next time Polarity. Sorry :(

Here is the link you're looking for.

Zeh Don:

Unfortunately, you've incorrectly labeled Atheism as the lack of belief, which it really isn't. Atheism is the belief that God(s) do not exist. It is not the same as wearing a hat, or having side burns, or owning a cat, nor is it the "default position" - which is the lack of belief, as I believe you've offered - because it requires understanding of what God would/could be in order to form an opinion on the matter, and the human mind automatically creates a conclusion, even when one does not logically exist.

A good teacher once provided the example of "Are there Diamonds in the Moon?". Before the question is asked, it is unlikely that someone would have seriously contemplated this. The person who has never pondered the question is the default - they have no opinion one way or the other. Once the question is asked, however, a person will automatically create a slant based on their accumulated knowledge - some will think it likely, some will think it unlikely. The only correct answer is "I do not know." Believing that there are no Diamonds in the Moon is not the default - the lack of belief - and therefore Atheism is also not the default, and thus your explanation doesn't apply.

I think about it this way. How do you feel about Xcolctl the Myan bloody handed lord of murder. To get into HIS afterlife he demands blood and souls for his throne of skulls. Now logically youre correct, the only answer i can offer is "I cant know if he exists" so i gain the agnostic label. However i NOW have to make a concrete choice. Do i sacrifice souls or do i NOT sacrifice souls. Here i CANNOT say "I dont know" or take a middle ground. I either give him skulls or i dont give him skulls. Ive opted to NOT give him skulls. Ive decided to live like he doesnt exist. Even though ive declared i cant know for certain ive taken a side just by not acting. The diamonds on the moon example falls down because it doesnt require action. A better example is Xcolctl. If Xcolctl DOES exist i need to sacrifice souls to him. If he doesnt i dont need to. The fact that im NOT sacrificing skulls to him even though ive said "I dont know if he is real" has already put me in the atheist camp. Im living like he doesnt exist. Im not partaking in any worship that i WOULD do if he was real. Im living under the assumption he is false. So im both agnostic (I cant know) and atheist (But Im not giving anyone a skull).

I feel the same way with the christian god. I know i cannot know. But im not praying or going to church. So im on the atheistic side of my agnosticism.

Silvanus:
It's not that politicians can proclaim their faith that I have a problem with; it's that they must.

Are you basing that on law?

Skeleon:
1) ...speaking out...is a fine, justifiable and reasonable thing to do.

2) It's not about "contact", it's about imposition.

1) Again, never denied debate and disagreement to anyone. Called out the remarks layered in negativity and offensive language because they don't contribute to anything but disharmony. There are some crazy-sounding beliefs in the world, you don't need to respond to every one of them because they don't control your life. You are letting them!

2) Really? I thought it was about endorsement. At least, that's what has been argued, and it went no where. A teacher leading prayers would violate the law, but to my knowledge no one has defended that topic.

itsthesheppy:
/snipped

Seems to me the strongest opponents think any tolerance of religion in the public square is a change in curriculum and indoctrination. I couldn't even defend some plastic decorations without the nuclear option Establishment Clause. It then came as no surprise to read a lead-in about tax-exempt status, which appears bitter and resentful, much like a lot of opposition in this thread. I don't think it's about some sort of trade-off between tax exemption and public disposition.

Nativity sets and/or school projects != government endorsement.

The government doesn't forbid worship, yet the above do not tell people to do anything.

There's no reason to retaliate with venom because others hold some beliefs about your fate. End of points.

AgedGrunt:

Seems to me the strongest opponents think any tolerance of religion in the public square is a change in curriculum and indoctrination. I couldn't even defend some plastic decorations without the nuclear option Establishment Clause. It then came as no surprise to read a lead-in about tax-exempt status, which appears bitter and resentful, much like a lot of opposition in this thread. I don't think it's about some sort of trade-off between tax exemption and public disposition.

Nativity sets and/or school projects != government endorsement.

The government doesn't forbid worship, yet the above do not tell people to do anything.

There's no reason to retaliate with venom because others hold some beliefs about your fate. End of points.

Religions are absolutely tolerated in the public square. There are three churches within two square miles in my tiny little hometown. One of the churches shares its parking lot with the town hall. I think it's fair to say that government and religion are, at the very least, cozy.

Edit: I posed the 'tax exempt' point and you had no response to that but to declare it bitter and resentful. How about you respond to the idea, rather than making assumptions about my state of mind? I suspect it might be because you can't. Hard to argue that government isn't bending over backwards, when it's passing up billions of dollars in tax exemption.

But there needs to be a line drawn: it's highly conspicuous that you have not answered to my challenge of how you would respond if schools started having kids read from the quran in the mornings, or if they had the kids say "On nation, under Allah" in the pledge. Like many who argue for the allowance of government endorsement of religion, it's always when its yours, or the one you're most familiar with. Not, of course, those other weird ones.

You can say "Nativity sets and/or school projects != government endorsement." all you like, it doesn't make the statement any more true, or backed by legal precedent, for the repetition.

Do you have any fresh arguments? Or was your "end of points" meant to stand in for the throwing of the proverbial towel?

AgedGrunt:

Silvanus:
It's not that politicians can proclaim their faith that I have a problem with; it's that they must.

Are you basing that on law?

I'm referring to the much greater difficulty a non-Christian would have attaining high office.

AgedGrunt:

itsthesheppy:
/snipped

Seems to me the strongest opponents think any tolerance of religion in the public square is a change in curriculum and indoctrination. I couldn't even defend some plastic decorations without the nuclear option Establishment Clause. It then came as no surprise to read a lead-in about tax-exempt status, which appears bitter and resentful, much like a lot of opposition in this thread. I don't think it's about some sort of trade-off between tax exemption and public disposition.

Nativity sets and/or school projects != government endorsement.

The government doesn't forbid worship, yet the above do not tell people to do anything.

There's no reason to retaliate with venom because others hold some beliefs about your fate. End of points.

It's quite telling when you consider schools putting up public displays to be 'tolerance of religion'. Tolerance is passive, doesn't involve putting things up, it's a bit more than that.

And nativity sets and school projects can be government endorsement.

If the government doesn't let any random crap be put up then putting up a nativity set is saying something. Putting it up in front of a government building on its own does send a message that the government should not be sending.

School projects means having kids take time to do something involving a celebration of your religion. That's an issue.

It is an endorsement of that religion, it shows approval(hint: Don't mistake not wanting approval from the government for a lack of tolerance, they could be neutral) and sets it up as if it should be considered standard.

AgedGrunt:
1) Again, never denied debate and disagreement to anyone. Called out the remarks layered in negativity and offensive language because they don't contribute to anything but disharmony. There are some crazy-sounding beliefs in the world, you don't need to respond to every one of them because they don't control your life. You are letting them!

Listen, when somebody insults me I'm going to decide myself whether I speak out or not, not to mention I feel the need to point out people who are so disgusting in their views. It helps shape society if you don't let crazies and offensive people spout their nonsense without counter. You don't just let them fester, you tell them to shove it and point at them for others to see how wrong they are. That helps shine the spotlight on them and affects how other people treat them, ultimately affecting how they behave and how, therefore, society as a whole behaves.

2) Really? I thought it was about endorsement. At least, that's what has been argued, and it went no where. A teacher leading prayers would violate the law, but to my knowledge no one has defended that topic.

Endorsement of a particular religion (especially if it's school-led prayer) is an imposition when it comes from the government or its officials because of the imbalance of power. It's not just a "suggestion" when there are very real consequences to people not wanting to pray in school (like being kicked off a sports team), the authority figures in question are abusing their standing to impose religion on people. That has to be weeded out. It's pretty simple: If you break the first amendment - no matter whether you in particular think it's a minor or a major infraction - it's a good idea to point it out and try to get it removed. Even on principle. It's why, for example, the whole "in god we trust"-thing on money is a thing that should be removed, if possible, so such groups working towards that are fully on the right track (although I think there are much higher priorities, I'm generally in favour). Anyway, it really shouldn't be a question: The establishment clause is pretty clear about "mere endorsements" of religion as well. Now, if you want to argue specific cases ("is this too far, is this not too far") go ahead and give an example, but the general rule of "either everything or nothing" usually applies.

itsthesheppy:
...Pretty much everything I've been referring to is in the NT. So your retreat to the OT to discredit what I'm saying betrays your lack of confidence in standing behind the NT. I asked you about the implications of John 14:6. Do you not have an answer?

Actually, as I stated in my post, I provided a "good example" - in this case, "good" meaning the clearest and most obvious example. As for the ramifications of John 14:6 - "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - they are explained in detail, but I'll do my best. Feel free to request more detail if needed.
So, in saying "I am the way", Jesus detailed that he goes before his people as an example to be followed. This is a multilateral statement, as understood in the Old Testament's discussion of the Jewish Messiah. Jesus is not only a prophet, detailing the way of salvation, but he is the way both to and of salvation itself by both his obedience and sacrifice. Hence the Laws of sacrifice being fulfilled, and thus not required.
In saying "...and the truth...", Jesus has detailed that he is not only "true", but truth itself. This also has reflections in the Old Testament, namely in how the Jews treated the Law and the Truth. This has offshoots into Jewish history, I won't detail those here, save for saying that Jesus' statement declared that he was both Truth and the Law. He is the mortal form of the true God, and thus eternal life. He is the truth of all the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament - they have all accomplished what they were intended to do in him. And, as such, he is the truth both in and of the New Covenant.
In saying "... and the life...", Jesus has stated that he is both the author and the giver of life, natural and spiritual. This also means that he is the way of life, or "the living way" - standing in opposition to the Law, again this has reflections in Jewish history and needs a separate discussion, which was declared far enough from being the way that it was the ministration of condemnation. This is the part where the "he who is without sin..." plays most heavily, mostly dealing with treatment of the Law and hypocritical nature of that treatment.
The last part is pretty self explanatory - though is does have several meanings. Namely, Jesus' body and blood both formed the New Covenant and completed the Old Covenant, and thus Jesus is now the only way to reconcile ones' self to the Father, or God.
The ultimate position of this part is quite simple: Jesus is now the only way through which one can pass into the Kingdom of Heaven, meaning to have their sin removed from them and be reconciled unto God.

You quoted Matthew 5:17:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
As I said previously, and touched on above, Jesus did indeed fulfill the Laws. He did not abolish them, he completed them. They achieved their purpose, and as such are finished.

itsthesheppy:
...If someone asks you a question in a conversation and your reply is something along the lines of "If you have to ask you'll never know" or some other similarly childish response, you're not doing yourself any credit...

Hardly. When someone argues against something, then asks fairly rudimentary questions advertising their lack of research, understanding or mere knowledge of the topic they're arguing against while claiming to have some, I have no choice but to point out the obvious: if you had the knowledge you infer you have, you wouldn't be asking the question. It is not a matter of credit, in my opinion.

itsthesheppy:
...Let's have some concrete examples of these sacrificial laws that jesus fulfilled...

The concept here is atonement for sin. Sin, as in separation from God through disobedience, has a singular punishment, and was made most clear in the Garden of Eden, in the book of Genesis. "The day you eat of it you will surely die." Adam brought sin into the world and humans, where prior to this act it did not exist. The New Testament support the clear penalty, with Romans 6:23 stating "the wages of sin is death." And, as all have sinned, (Romans 3:23) we all are guilty of breaking God's law and are thus are doomed to die.
God provided a system of atonement through the Jewish Law, detailed in the Laws of Moses, so that we might be spared death and have eternal life. That is, God provided a means of substitution for the penalty of one's sin. According to the Law, a sacrifice of sufficient quality could be offered on man's behalf, whose blood would pay the guilt of man's sin. The book of Hebrews covers this, however the clearest example is: "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22).
So, for example, a goat was offered to atone for the sins of the children of Israel, "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat." (Leviticus 16:15).
Jesus fulfilled these laws, by offering himself as a sinless sacrifice, which is why he is referred to as the Lamb of God, see John 1:29, and then John 14:6 as to what it means that Jesus has become the Lamb of God - the sacrifice.

I'll end with these verses, as I feel it covers it well enough and offers a good ground to start from if you wish to self-educate.

Book of Hebrews, Chapter 9:
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

.

Chapter 10 goes a little more into this, but it's not really as relevant to this discussion.

itsthesheppy:
Can you explain why 1 Corinthians 6 isn't relevant despite existing in the NT and coming to us through the only original source we have, historically, for Jesus' divinity?

I think I'm misunderstanding here, please chime in, as the response is simply: Christians, that is followers of Christ, should not contend, in this verse in the context of the Law - as in legal disputes - with one another because both parties are supposed to be of a forgiving temperament first and foremost? Being the answer is that, I think I'm misunderstanding the question.

itsthesheppy:
...The "uneducated terrorist" is a myth. Many terrorists have been shown to be college-educated, perfectly "reasonable" people who just happened to be highly religious, and motivated by that religion to attack a perceived threat to that religion...

I think I didn't make my use of the word educated clear. That's my fault, I knew what you meant, I should have stipulated that I was using a different meaning. Educated, in my post, referring to well educated in the writings and understandings contained therein of their personal religions, as opposed to the level of teaching or schooling that a person has received.
College educated, for example, has different meanings in different parts of the world. The standard of education is considerably lacking in most countries where this type of behaviour is most common, and the level of education present at a college level is well behind most. While they may be college educated, and most colleges in those parts of the world are required by law to teach their religion (I see you mention this below), those selected for indoctrination fit a clear psychological profile that makes them susceptible to things like the "belonging" nature of the terrorists' organisation or because they have been personally effected by the group being targeted (family killed by the USA, for example). These people are essentially "re-educated" as apart of that indoctrination, including a deep focus on twisting whichever religion they're apart of to justify their acts. Only much later, after their loyalty to that organisation is strong, are they selected to commit terrorist attacks such as suicide bombings.
It's not "reasonable" people who just decide to strap on bombs to themselves because "Religion", these people are selected using specific criteria that make them most likely to be willing to be indoctrinated. A great jumping off point are some of the studies completed from the American Psychological Association, though some groups in Europe - who's names escape me, sorry - have conducted more thorough studies.

itsthesheppy:
...The "political" disagreement Islamic terrorists theocracies have with us in the middle east in particular is almost wholly centered around our backing and aid given to Isreal. Why do the predominantly muslim middle eastern countries have a problem with the predominantly jewish Isreal? Could it be because predominantly jewish Isreal mistreat the predominantly muslim Palestinians?...

So, revenge then?

itsthesheppy:
Extremists don't pervert the religion they belong to. They just happen to follow all the nasty bits that moderates choose to ignore. I've covered this a few times in this thread and I'm not in the mood to repeat myself.

So, you believe it's the moderates of all of the world's religions - the majority, then - who do not kill people, because they believe killing people is wrong even though you believe their religions state the opposite of this... and you believe this is a bad thing?
What's more likely - billions of people have misunderstood, and are doing the opposite of what their religions state they should be doing, or the people not of those religions have misunderstood those religions?

itsthesheppy:
Prove it.

Sure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Soviet_Encyclopedia
The above tome has all of the major details - it must be close to the public domain by now? - however the principle party that was formed from the smaller, non-government grass roots anti-religious movements in the early 20th century is the League of Militant Godless.

This was the government-backed party, created by uniting the smaller movements. The League would, obviously, bring in millions of new members in this form, and it's main focus was the elimination of Religion. What is most interesting is the initial internal bickering at the head - three factions formed internally:
1. Those who thought that if Religion was made illegal, it would die off.
2. Those who thought Religion was a classist-ideal, and would be removed as Communism was enforced with might.
3. Those who thought Godlessness was the truth, and any counter position should be expunged by any means necessary.

Strangle enough, of the three branches, I believe it was the Moscow branch of the League succeeded in enforcing the third of these, and so Godlessness and not classist-ideal informed the direction of the group moving forward into the 1930s, during which period people of all Religion were made illegal, it's practitioners were arrested, most of whom died in the camps established by the USSR's Stalin government to house them.
It is worth noting that most of the major players of the group later retained their "Classist" approach as the group fell out of favor with the people, in an attempt to reignite the group's power. However, these claims were often attacked by the group itself, which had essentially removed itself from the government of it's heads by the mid 1930s.

Basically, the League succeeded in wiping up an anti-religious mob, and lost control of it as it marched to the beat of "Godlessness". The mob literally fought against any attempts to label their actions as anything other than "anti-religious", up to and including it's own leaders; they wanted people to know it was their Godlessness at work, and not the work of the Stalinist ideology.

itsthesheppy:
...Just gonna stop you right there. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. That's it... ...They (and myself) are open to the possibility that god might exist if there was any evidence provided that he, or she, or it, does...

Sorry, you can name-drop all you like, but most of the authors you listed - one in particular - are famously anti-theist. They literally argue that God does not exist. They maintain a shred of credence with the usual "If there were evidence..." however practically speaking, they denounce the existence of God and have made themselves quite wealthy in the process.
As for the rest, one does not lack a belief unless one does not know of said belief, in the same way one does not lack knowledge unless one does not know it. Once you aware of the concept, you slant one way or the other. It is the psychological explanation for immediate bias, and is incapable of not being present in the healthy human mind. Belief is not binary, but rather ternary. That is, belief is categorised into three categories: 1. Things you believe to be true. 0. Things you have no knowledge of. -1. Things you believe not to be true.
Everything you have is filed away into one of those categories by your brain. If you "lack belief", you must fall into category 0. If you know of something, however, it falls into one of the other two. This is easily defined by ones actions. As mentioned, if you act as if God does not exist, then for practical purposes you believe that God does not exist - because your brain has filed that concept into category -1. This isn't a hard and fast rule, however it's useful for studies into subconscious beliefs.
Within each category, there are Degrees of Certainty, to use a pretty inaccurate term, however the base framework for belief is pretty simple. The lack of empirical evidence pushes the concept of God into category -1 for atheists... hence them being atheists. Theists, however, would employ what we might consider to be tacit evidence to push the concept of God into category 1.

Zeh Don:
Sorry, you can name-drop all you like, but most of the authors you listed - one in particular - are famously anti-theist. They literally argue that God does not exist. They maintain a shred of credence with the usual "If there were evidence..." however practically speaking, they denounce the existence of God and have made themselves quite wealthy in the process.

"have made themselves quite wealthy in the process"

Please go there. Ask me how much the Vatican make in a year. Or several Christian churches. Please do, because I have so much material for you to read through.

And for the other part! Yes how dare educated men and women present hard evidence for evolution and physical laws which renders your god not just impossible, but silly as well? What nerve they have despite a life time in education and research to challenge men in capes who read one book written by people who killed, enslaved, raped and committed general genocide in the name of a god who didn't fucking know the earth was round and present it as truth. How dare they question a god who according to the bible is a random killing maniac spawned from a time when men believed every thunder crack in the sky was a sign of a angry god.

How dare they try to enlighten you! How dare they!

Zeh Don:

itsthesheppy:
...Pretty much everything I've been referring to is in the NT. So your retreat to the OT to discredit what I'm saying betrays your lack of confidence in standing behind the NT. I asked you about the implications of John 14:6. Do you not have an answer?

Actually, as I stated in my post, I provided a "good example" - in this case, "good" meaning the clearest and most obvious example. As for the ramifications of John 14:6 - "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - they are explained in detail, but I'll do my best. Feel free to request more detail if needed.
So, in saying "I am the way", Jesus detailed that he goes before his people as an example to be followed. This is a multilateral statement, as understood in the Old Testament's discussion of the Jewish Messiah. Jesus is not only a prophet, detailing the way of salvation, but he is the way both to and of salvation itself by both his obedience and sacrifice. Hence the Laws of sacrifice being fulfilled, and thus not required.
In saying "...and the truth...", Jesus has detailed that he is not only "true", but truth itself. This also has reflections in the Old Testament, namely in how the Jews treated the Law and the Truth. This has offshoots into Jewish history, I won't detail those here, save for saying that Jesus' statement declared that he was both Truth and the Law. He is the mortal form of the true God, and thus eternal life. He is the truth of all the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament - they have all accomplished what they were intended to do in him. And, as such, he is the truth both in and of the New Covenant.
In saying "... and the life...", Jesus has stated that he is both the author and the giver of life, natural and spiritual. This also means that he is the way of life, or "the living way" - standing in opposition to the Law, again this has reflections in Jewish history and needs a separate discussion, which was declared far enough from being the way that it was the ministration of condemnation. This is the part where the "he who is without sin..." plays most heavily, mostly dealing with treatment of the Law and hypocritical nature of that treatment.
The last part is pretty self explanatory - though is does have several meanings. Namely, Jesus' body and blood both formed the New Covenant and completed the Old Covenant, and thus Jesus is now the only way to reconcile ones' self to the Father, or God.
The ultimate position of this part is quite simple: Jesus is now the only way through which one can pass into the Kingdom of Heaven, meaning to have their sin removed from them and be reconciled unto God.

You quoted Matthew 5:17:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
As I said previously, and touched on above, Jesus did indeed fulfill the Laws. He did not abolish them, he completed them. They achieved their purpose, and as such are finished.

I'm not sure where you got the bolded part. How does fulfilling the old laws finish them? Are the ten commandments "finished", for example?

In any case, you failed, again, to address the implications of what I was asking. Thanks for the point by point deconstruction about the first part of Jesus' quote; it wasn't the meat of my question but it made for some entertaining reading, though most of it sounded like babble to me. Seems like you could have just summed it up by saying "All of this stuff would be terribly meaningful to bronze aged jews but the point he's getting at is he's god and people should follow his example". Wouldn't that cut to the quick?

Anyway, the implications of the quote go unanswered. If I am a good person, but I do not accept Jesus, then what? Can Hindus go to salvation if they lived good lives, despite rejecting Christ as the Savior the entirety of their lives? I'll put it another way: the quote seems to draw a line in the sand; you're either with me or you're not. The question is, what are the options for the "not" crowd?

itsthesheppy:
...Let's have some concrete examples of these sacrificial laws that jesus fulfilled...

The concept here is atonement for sin. Sin, as in separation from God through disobedience, has a singular punishment, and was made most clear in the Garden of Eden, in the book of Genesis. "The day you eat of it you will surely die." Adam brought sin into the world and humans, where prior to this act it did not exist. The New Testament support the clear penalty, with Romans 6:23 stating "the wages of sin is death." And, as all have sinned, (Romans 3:23) we all are guilty of breaking God's law and are thus are doomed to die.

"Created sick, and commanded to be well." ~Christopher Hitchens.

Sorry for interrupting, please continue.

God provided a system of atonement through the Jewish Law, detailed in the Laws of Moses, so that we might be spared death and have eternal life. That is, God provided a means of substitution for the penalty of one's sin. According to the Law, a sacrifice of sufficient quality could be offered on man's behalf, whose blood would pay the guilt of man's sin. The book of Hebrews covers this, however the clearest example is: "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22).
So, for example, a goat was offered to atone for the sins of the children of Israel, "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat." (Leviticus 16:15).
Jesus fulfilled these laws, by offering himself as a sinless sacrifice, which is why he is referred to as the Lamb of God, see John 1:29, and then John 14:6 as to what it means that Jesus has become the Lamb of God - the sacrifice.

I'll end with these verses, as I feel it covers it well enough and offers a good ground to start from if you wish to self-educate.

Book of Hebrews, Chapter 9:
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

.

Chapter 10 goes a little more into this, but it's not really as relevant to this discussion.

No need, I'm well aware of Christianity's role as a cult of human sacrifice.

First of all, the Garden of Eden never existed. There was no apple, there was no Original Sin. Even the Catholic church accepts evolution at this point, so it's fair to say that the creation story is a myth. If so, then what "original sin" are we all guilty of, exactly? What are we atoning for?

What if I say, you know what? Fie on that, I'm not guilty of sin just because I was born, so I reject the need to sacrifice a human in my place to "forgive" me. I find the act of scapegoating morally repugnant so I reject the "gift" offered to me to be complicit in this cult of human sacrifice. It seems to me that doing so condemns me in the eyes of Yahweh. Or am I mistaken? Is acceptance of jesus' sacrifice and the covenant and etc. truly contingent, as it is described to be? Or is it purely optional?

Also, I find the idea that one's sins can be absolved of a third party to be morally bankrupt. If you punch me in the face and knock out my teeth, I don't give a shit if some third party pats you on the back and forgives you if you fall down on your knees in front of it. I'm still missing my teeth. Or better yet, answer me this: What if moment's before his death, Stalin felt true remorse for his monstrous life and converted to Christianity with a fullness of spirit, begging jesus for forgiveness before flatlining. Does he get to go to heaven?

I'm screwed, of course. According to Mark 3:29:

"But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

Yeah. I've done that. Oops. Are you talking to a condemned man?

itsthesheppy:
Can you explain why 1 Corinthians 6 isn't relevant despite existing in the NT and coming to us through the only original source we have, historically, for Jesus' divinity?

I think I'm misunderstanding here, please chime in, as the response is simply: Christians, that is followers of Christ, should not contend, in this verse in the context of the Law - as in legal disputes - with one another because both parties are supposed to be of a forgiving temperament first and foremost? Being the answer is that, I think I'm misunderstanding the question.

When bringing up Leviticus and the prohibiton against homosexuality, many progressive christians will, as you have done, suggest that the laws of the OT were 'finished' by Jesus, so in reality christianity can be okay with gay people. But in 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9-10, it's clearly stated that homosexuals can't get into heaven. That's NT. So mustn't all christians be opposed categorically to homosexuality?

Note that I only know about 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 because I was debating exactly such a point with a friend of mine who voted against gay marriage in California, and that was the verse she quoted at me when I tried to make the point that Jesus and the NT "never" came out against gays. I was wrong. Or... was I? You tell me.

itsthesheppy:
...The "political" disagreement Islamic terrorists theocracies have with us in the middle east in particular is almost wholly centered around our backing and aid given to Isreal. Why do the predominantly muslim middle eastern countries have a problem with the predominantly jewish Isreal? Could it be because predominantly jewish Isreal mistreat the predominantly muslim Palestinians?...

So, revenge then?

You're... not seeing the smoking gun of religion wrapped up in all this? You're not seeing how religions are causal to all of this behavior? Was my repeated use of the word "predominantly" confusing?

The Palestinians have, I feel, a legitimate political gripe. But they have that gripe because of the oppression they suffer at the hands of religious people, who are motivated by religious teachings. Also, its worth pointing out that suicide bombings in places like markets and buses in the middle east seem to feature one brand of muslims targeting a different brand. People who are otherwise completely indistinguishable, driven to murder each other because of opposing religious convictions.

itsthesheppy:
Extremists don't pervert the religion they belong to. They just happen to follow all the nasty bits that moderates choose to ignore. I've covered this a few times in this thread and I'm not in the mood to repeat myself.

So, you believe it's the moderates of all of the world's religions - the majority, then - who do not kill people, because they believe killing people is wrong even though you believe their religions state the opposite of this... and you believe this is a bad thing?
What's more likely - billions of people have misunderstood, and are doing the opposite of what their religions state they should be doing, or the people not of those religions have misunderstood those religions?

The bible does tell people to stone homosexuals? Lemme tell ya, if you were the sort of person who wanted to kill homosexuals with rocks, hard to find a more solid source than the Word of God to authorize the actions.

Of course, we don't have that problem in this country. It's a different story, though, depending on where you happen to be on the globe.

What I think is likely is that the Abrahamic holy books are filled to bursting with bronze aged violence and bigotry that is nigh on impossible to subscribe to in our current day and age. But the bits haven't been edited out, and you'll always have some people who think maybe things really were better back then. People who believe themselves carrying god's license.

itsthesheppy:
Prove it.

Sure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Soviet_Encyclopedia
The above tome has all of the major details - it must be close to the public domain by now? - however the principle party that was formed from the smaller, non-government grass roots anti-religious movements in the early 20th century is the League of Militant Godless.

This was the government-backed party, created by uniting the smaller movements. The League would, obviously, bring in millions of new members in this form, and it's main focus was the elimination of Religion. What is most interesting is the initial internal bickering at the head - three factions formed internally:
1. Those who thought that if Religion was made illegal, it would die off.
2. Those who thought Religion was a classist-ideal, and would be removed as Communism was enforced with might.
3. Those who thought Godlessness was the truth, and any counter position should be expunged by any means necessary.

Strangle enough, of the three branches, I believe it was the Moscow branch of the League succeeded in enforcing the third of these, and so Godlessness and not classist-ideal informed the direction of the group moving forward into the 1930s, during which period people of all Religion were made illegal, it's practitioners were arrested, most of whom died in the camps established by the USSR's Stalin government to house them.
It is worth noting that most of the major players of the group later retained their "Classist" approach as the group fell out of favor with the people, in an attempt to reignite the group's power. However, these claims were often attacked by the group itself, which had essentially removed itself from the government of it's heads by the mid 1930s.

Basically, the League succeeded in wiping up an anti-religious mob, and lost control of it as it marched to the beat of "Godlessness". The mob literally fought against any attempts to label their actions as anything other than "anti-religious", up to and including it's own leaders; they wanted people to know it was their Godlessness at work, and not the work of the Stalinist ideology.

Well, you might have me there. I've never heard of this before and it warrants further research. I'm amazed I've never heard of it before; one would think it would have come up before now.

So I can't really comment on it other than to say it definitely looks like you have a point, in this case. Congrats on catching me off my guard with something new, though. Bound to happen once in a while.

itsthesheppy:
...Just gonna stop you right there. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. That's it... ...They (and myself) are open to the possibility that god might exist if there was any evidence provided that he, or she, or it, does...

Sorry, you can name-drop all you like, but most of the authors you listed - one in particular - are famously anti-theist. They literally argue that God does not exist. They maintain a shred of credence with the usual "If there were evidence..." however practically speaking, they denounce the existence of God and have made themselves quite wealthy in the process.
As for the rest, one does not lack a belief unless one does not know of said belief, in the same way one does not lack knowledge unless one does not know it. Once you aware of the concept, you slant one way or the other. It is the psychological explanation for immediate bias, and is incapable of not being present in the healthy human mind. Belief is not binary, but rather ternary. That is, belief is categorised into three categories: 1. Things you believe to be true. 0. Things you have no knowledge of. -1. Things you believe not to be true.
Everything you have is filed away into one of those categories by your brain. If you "lack belief", you must fall into category 0. If you know of something, however, it falls into one of the other two. This is easily defined by ones actions. As mentioned, if you act as if God does not exist, then for practical purposes you believe that God does not exist - because your brain has filed that concept into category -1. This isn't a hard and fast rule, however it's useful for studies into subconscious beliefs.
Within each category, there are Degrees of Certainty, to use a pretty inaccurate term, however the base framework for belief is pretty simple. The lack of empirical evidence pushes the concept of God into category -1 for atheists... hence them being atheists. Theists, however, would employ what we might consider to be tacit evidence to push the concept of God into category 1.

It's such a shame that you scored so direct a hit with the League of Militant Atheists thing above (something that has left me somewhat reeling, rare in debates for me) only to go on and completely bungle a tortured attempt to salvage your lousy definition of what atheism is.

Look, is Hanuman the Hindu Monkey God real, or not real? He either exists or he does not; it is a rather binary question. If he does, great, prove it. If you can't, well, then he probably doesn't. It's a simple concept to understand.

Nobody here is claiming to know Hanuman isn't real. We just consider him unreal in a practical sense, because we have no good reason to think he is. Is that so hard to grasp?

Indecipherable:
Imagine the same ridicule you would have if an adult genuinely worshipped Thor, Zeus or Huitzilopochtli.

http://www.odinistfellowship.co.uk/

http://www.ysee.gr/index-eng.php

Can't find anything about Mesoamerican religion today, but those two should suffice.

itsthesheppy:
* Religions are absolutely tolerated in the public square.
** I posed the 'tax exempt' point and you had no response to that
*** it's highly conspicuous that you have not answered to my challenge of how you would respond if schools started having kids read from the quran in the mornings, or if they had the kids say "On nation, under Allah" in the pledge. Like many who argue for the allowance of government endorsement of religion, it's always when its yours, or the one you're most familiar with. Not, of course, those other weird ones.

* They're thrown out of it. Pretty bold claim considering what's been said in this thread, alone.

** Not sure where you live, but I can get tax deductions for donating to charity. Religions tend to do charitable and community work. It's incentive for doing a good thing and government shouldn't burden them, because they are helping alleviate what would be a burden on the government and the people. Tax breaks and incentives are nothing unique to religion.

*** Students aren't reading from Bibles, so I'd be wondering the same thing everyone else would be at that point. The Pledge itself is written with the word God, so to change it would be changing history. I understand you want to reason this as a matter of preferential treatment but it isn't. If a nativity scene were allowed in a government building and another religion wanted to put up a symbol, sounds grand. I'm terribly sorry that American history has been about God and not Allah, but that is who we are. I'd rather something not be said at all than see it bastardized for political correctness.

Silvanus:
I'm referring to the much greater difficulty a non-Christian would have attaining high office.

I'd say the same difficulty exists for women, minorities and people who are too old, too fat, unmarried or have no military background, just for starters. The Presidency is a position extremely prejudiced; there should be a complaint department. It's an issue, but it's very broad and it's about the ethos, not legality.

Dijkstra:
Tolerance is passive, doesn't involve putting things up, it's a bit more than that.

If the government doesn't let any random crap be put up then putting up a nativity set is saying something.

It is an endorsement of that religion, it shows approval(hint: Don't mistake not wanting approval from the government for a lack of tolerance, they could be neutral) and sets it up as if it should be considered standard.

Tolerance is passive, which means that nativity scene and written prayer on the wall mean you don't have to be active, participate in activity or the organization of religion whatsoever. It means not reacting or taking action. Just walk on and live your life.

It also means not filing it under "random crap", tolerant forum person.

Skeleon:
Listen, when somebody insults me I'm going to decide myself whether I speak out or not, not to mention I feel the need to point out people who are so disgusting in their views. It helps shape society if you don't let crazies and offensive people spout their nonsense without counter.

You have the right to free speech, I have the right to tell you it's wrong, and that a culture and legal war over printed words is a destructive force that leaves but a wasteland to stake victory upon.

itsthesheppy:
I'm not sure where you got the bolded part. How does fulfilling the old laws finish them? Are the ten commandments "finished", for example?

I didn't say all of them were fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament includes something like fifty different prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. It was through the fulfillment of these prophecies that the Jews was told they would be able to recognize him when he came. The four gospels record several times when Jesus said that He was fulfilling a prophecy of the Old Testament.
Anything relating to the Jews atonement for sin - including the punishment for sin - was fulfilled, as Jesus became the sacrifice, and took the punishment, that would have to be paid for sin. And so, they are finished. The Old Covenant was completed, and the New Covenant was started in Jesus - that those who keep Jesus' teachings, and accept him, would be covered by it.

itsthesheppy:
If I am a good person, but I do not accept Jesus, then what?... The question is, what are the options for the "not" crowd?

The "not" crowd would be presented before God and judged when they die for their sins. What happens then is wholly in the hands of God, as people do not judge one another. It is stated - and I can't remember the passage - that how you judge others is how you are judged. Interpret that as you will.

itsthesheppy:
"Created sick, and commanded to be well." ~Christopher Hitchens.

If you're going to quote anti-theists, select quotes which are upheld against that which you are arguing. The Bible stipulates that Man was created perfectly, and became "sick" through their own actions. So, no.

itsthesheppy:
...then what "original sin" are we all guilty of, exactly? What are we atoning for?

Sin, as I previous mentioned, is described as disconnection through disobedience with God. So, you're atoning for that disobedience.

itsthesheppy:
...Or am I mistaken?...

That's really the same question you've asked above, isn't? As stated, only God can know for sure what happens to you.

itsthesheppy:
...Also, I find the idea that one's sins can be absolved of a third party to be morally bankrupt... if Stalin felt true remorse for his monstrous life and converted to Christianity with a fullness of spirit, begging jesus for forgiveness before flatlining. Does he get to go to heaven?

True forgiveness is required for absolution, the punishment is handed to the scapegoat, who in this case is the guy handing out the sentence.

itsthesheppy:
Yeah. I've done that. Oops. Are you talking to a condemned man?

Are you expecting me to answer a rhetorical question?

itsthesheppy:
Many progressive christians will ... suggest that the laws of the OT were 'finished' by Jesus, so in reality christianity can be okay with gay people ... mustn't all christians be opposed categorically to homosexuality?

There is a difference here you seem to misinterpreting. Christians are required first and foremost to love every person they come across, regardless of their actions. God judges people, not other people. So, Christians are required to remain essentially impartial - which we both know they fail spectacularly at.
If you don't agree with religion, going as far as to say it is evil, must you hate the religious? Hurt them? Why must a Christian do that to those whom they?
As for gay marriage, Christians are required to love their neighbour - not their Christian neighbours - as they love themselves. They wouldn't legislate to make their own marriages illegal, so if they do that to others they're being rather hypocritical, in every sense of the word, and failing literally the most important part of their belief.

itsthesheppy:
You're... not seeing the smoking gun of religion wrapped up in all this?

I'm seeing people using Religion to smokescreen their agendas, and providing twisted versions of their beliefs as justification for their actions. Do I believe people kill one another for religious reasons? Absolutely. Do I believe that's what's happening in the examples and situations you've provided? Not really. I believe cowards will pick the easiest shield.

itsthesheppy:
The bible does tell people to stone homosexuals?

Actually, it tells Jews to do this. Christians aren't allowed. The question then, of course, is why Jews aren't doing this in every country in the world in which they reside?

itsthesheppy:
...to go on and completely bungle a tortured attempt to salvage your lousy definition of what atheism is.

Unfortunately you haven't made clear how this is the case? And I didn't define Atheism - it's acceptably defined as being the theory, position or belief that God or Gods do not exist. I explained how belief functions, the biases necessary to create it, and corrected your incorrect statement that atheism is "the lack of belief" - because one cannot "lack" a belief due to the nature of belief itself.

itsthesheppy:
Look, is Hanuman the Hindu Monkey God real, or not real?

I don't know, sorry.

itsthesheppy:
He either exists or he does not; it is a rather binary question.

The question is a matter of existence, not belief. Did the closest living creature related to humans some 250,000,000 years ago believe he didn't exist? No; they had no knowledge of Hanuman, and so cannot be stated to have believed one way or the other on the question of his existence.

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